Defensive back Sheldon Brown joked last season that with defensive coordinator Jim Johnson doing his coaching from a box high above the field, it was distinctly quieter on the Eagles' sideline.
Over the last few weeks of the 2008 season, Johnson was relegated upstairs on game days and required the use of a cane to get around the NovaCare Complex during the week. Johnson has been undergoing treatment for melanoma in his spine since February.
When the post-draft mini-camp commenced on Friday, Johnson was out on the practice field seated in a motorized cart doing what he does best.
"I feel good," Johnson said. "I appreciate all the concern about my injury; I really do, from the fans to (the media). I feel good. I'm still going through treatment. The biggest thing I'm trying to get now is the pain out of my back. I have some broken bones in the lower part, so that allows me not to be on my feet quite as much. But with everything else, I feel fine."
For Johnson, being back on the field was an escape from his health concerns.
"It's great," Johnson said. "It's part of my life, keeps me going. I don't feel any different coaching; I'm coaching the same way." Photo Gallery : 2009 Post-Draft Mini-Camp
For some of the players, seeing Johnson in the cart and watching him persevere through adversity has given them a different perspective on football and life.
"It just shows everybody that you have to cherish what you do," safety Quintin Demps said. "You have to live, man."
And live Johnson has; for example, in between treatments he visited Spain in the off-season. Coming to work everyday, and not cutting back on the hours, provides a similar distraction and while he's in constant pain, he's confident that the treatment he's taking will help him beat this thing and help get back to his old self.
"It's something you have to deal with everyday," Johnson said. "I can say I'm still going through treatment hoping to get it done. Sure it affects your life. You think about it everyday, no question as far as pain here and there. But the thing about when I come here to work, it feels good. It's not going to be like this all the time. Hopefully we can get that injured back (fixed) so I'm back walking back on the field. But right now I'm on that cart and it helps out quite a bit."